The Mathematics of Biodiversity

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Medical, Veterinary &Life Sci

Abstract

 
Description The combination of a five-week research meeting for up to a dozen researchers together with a one week workshop which an additional 30 people were able to attend was extremely successful in both developing a deeper understanding of the connections between different fields, and in communicating results between mathematicians and life sciences about advances being made in other research areas.
Exploitation Route The workshop connected research carried out across remits of five of the research councils for the first time - BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC, MRC and ESRC - with PIs with funding from all of them able to attend it and/or subsequent follow-up meetings. It can be taken forward by making research in biodiversity, animal breeding, genetics, evolution, disease control, immunology and mathematics more interdisciplinary in nature.

It is indeed already being taken forward in the development of a large interdisciplinary consortium in this new, broad, diversity-based research area; the expansion of the University of Glasgow's Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health's research remit and membership beyond disease research to areas of biodiversity and animal research; the publication of six papers leading on from the workshop; the organisation of two follow-on meetings (the last, in July 2014, was attended by over 100 researchers); and the submission of two large (>£1M) grants by consortia of attendees at the workshop.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Healthcare

 
Description This international workshop involved 40 researchers from 10 countries and including academics, members of research institutes and charities. The meeting was extremely successful in communicating results between mathematicians and life scientists, and progress was made both with the practical improvements in understanding the difficulties encountered by both groups and in the development of new tools to improve the measurement of biodiversity and diversity more generally. At least six papers have been published from work discussed and developed at the meeting in Ecography, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, PLoS One, Evolution, Ecological Monographs and the arXiv. The work has led to a large interdisciplinary collaboration forming in the broad area of diversity research, and has already led to two large (>£1M) grant submissions.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Environment,Healthcare
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description 2012 Animal Health Research Club
Amount £449,212 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/L004070/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2014 
End 06/2017
 
Description DTP
Amount £0 (GBP)
Funding ID 1371607 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 02/2018
 
Description FLIP
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/P004202/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 08/2018
 
Description Farmed Animal Disease and Health
Amount £1,206,175 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/L004828/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2014 
End 10/2017
 
Description Neutral theory and quantifying diversity
Amount £0 (GBP)
Funding ID 1654080 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2019
 
Description Collaboration with the Natural History Museum London. 
Organisation Natural History Museum
Department Life Sciences Department
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Using data provided by our collaborators at the Natural History museum, we are developing general ecosystem models that we will use to test the current suite of biodiversity metrics and their use and efficacy from a monitoring point of view. To this end, we hope to use the information to answer questions surrounding current biodiversity patterns of endangered plant species and how we might better predict/measure these.
Collaborator Contribution Our Collaborator Neil Brummitt provides expertise on the biological aspect of this work, including data and information on plant species occurrences, traits and current conservation policy (including the process involved in the IUCN red list).
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration spanning computer science, ecology and mathematics.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Diversity 
Organisation Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have provided an understanding of the links between the fundamental mathematics studied by the mathematicians with whom we collaborate and the applied biodiversity problems that the ecologists we work with wish to understand.
Collaborator Contribution Tom Leinster at the University of Edinburgh has been providing mathematical expertise to understand the fundamental properties of diversity measures. Jill Thompson at CEH and Neil Brummitt at NHM have been providing practical assistance in understanding the underlying biodiversity that we are studying. Michael Krabbe Borregaard at NHMD has been working on development of Julia code to help with analyses.
Impact How to partition diversity (arXiv paper) multidisciplinary - maths, ecology, biodiversity BB/P004202/1 Mathematical Theory and Biological Applications of Diversity (further funding) multidisciplinary - maths, ecology, biodiversity, evolutionary biology
Start Year 2012
 
Description Diversity 
Organisation Natural History Museum
Department Lepidoptera Collection
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have provided an understanding of the links between the fundamental mathematics studied by the mathematicians with whom we collaborate and the applied biodiversity problems that the ecologists we work with wish to understand.
Collaborator Contribution Tom Leinster at the University of Edinburgh has been providing mathematical expertise to understand the fundamental properties of diversity measures. Jill Thompson at CEH and Neil Brummitt at NHM have been providing practical assistance in understanding the underlying biodiversity that we are studying. Michael Krabbe Borregaard at NHMD has been working on development of Julia code to help with analyses.
Impact How to partition diversity (arXiv paper) multidisciplinary - maths, ecology, biodiversity BB/P004202/1 Mathematical Theory and Biological Applications of Diversity (further funding) multidisciplinary - maths, ecology, biodiversity, evolutionary biology
Start Year 2012
 
Description Diversity 
Organisation University of Copenhagen
Department Natural History Museum of Denmark
Country Denmark 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have provided an understanding of the links between the fundamental mathematics studied by the mathematicians with whom we collaborate and the applied biodiversity problems that the ecologists we work with wish to understand.
Collaborator Contribution Tom Leinster at the University of Edinburgh has been providing mathematical expertise to understand the fundamental properties of diversity measures. Jill Thompson at CEH and Neil Brummitt at NHM have been providing practical assistance in understanding the underlying biodiversity that we are studying. Michael Krabbe Borregaard at NHMD has been working on development of Julia code to help with analyses.
Impact How to partition diversity (arXiv paper) multidisciplinary - maths, ecology, biodiversity BB/P004202/1 Mathematical Theory and Biological Applications of Diversity (further funding) multidisciplinary - maths, ecology, biodiversity, evolutionary biology
Start Year 2012
 
Description Diversity 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Department Centre for Integrative Physiology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have provided an understanding of the links between the fundamental mathematics studied by the mathematicians with whom we collaborate and the applied biodiversity problems that the ecologists we work with wish to understand.
Collaborator Contribution Tom Leinster at the University of Edinburgh has been providing mathematical expertise to understand the fundamental properties of diversity measures. Jill Thompson at CEH and Neil Brummitt at NHM have been providing practical assistance in understanding the underlying biodiversity that we are studying. Michael Krabbe Borregaard at NHMD has been working on development of Julia code to help with analyses.
Impact How to partition diversity (arXiv paper) multidisciplinary - maths, ecology, biodiversity BB/P004202/1 Mathematical Theory and Biological Applications of Diversity (further funding) multidisciplinary - maths, ecology, biodiversity, evolutionary biology
Start Year 2012
 
Title rdiversity R package 
Description rdiversity is a package for R based around a framework of similarity-sensitive diversity measures. It calculates the diversity of a population and its constituent subcommunities inclusive of similarity (taxonomic, phenotypic, genetic, phylogenetic, functional, and so on) between individuals. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Used in research by internal and external colleagues. 
URL https://github.com/boydorr/rdiversity
 
Description BES meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The British Ecological Society meeting is a huge annual meeting that offers an opportunity to communicate with other researchers, students, policymakers and NGOs. Several people contacted us during the meeting to discuss adapting our work to their needs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Boyd Orr conferences and workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The sixteen conferences, workshops and symposia we have organised in Glasgow have resulted in lengthy discussions about the strategic direction that research should move in to have more impact, especially on policy.

Several consortia for large grants have met at these meetings over the years, and they have resulted in closer communications with both our collaborators in academia and partners in NGOs, charities and amongst policy makers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
URL http://www.gla.ac.uk/boydorr/meetingsevents/